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Consumer Confidential: Higher airfares, Whole Foods' payday, a sweet Amazon deal

January 19, 2011 | 10:57 am

Planepic Here's your wailin' Wednesday roundup of consumer news from around the Web:

-- Oil prices are rising, and that's pushing up fuel costs, and that can only mean one thing: Higher airline fares. In fact, Gerard Arpey, chief executive of the parent of American Airlines, says that "we expect prices to be significantly higher this year." How much higher? Arpey expects American's fuel bill to rise by more than $1 billion. Delta Air Lines expects its fuel costs to rise by a similar amount. Since mid-December, U.S. carriers have tried to increase domestic fare prices four times by up to $20 for a round-trip flight, according to data from You've been warned.

-- It isn't news that shopping at Whole Foods can take a big bite out of your paycheck. Maybe one reason prices are so high, though, is that the company pays its bosses a lot of dough -- one of them at least. The combined compensation for co-CEOs John Mackey and Walter Robb last year was almost $4.6 million. Of that amount, Robb, who was promoted from president to share the top spot, got about $4.58 million. Mackey, the founder, received compensation valued at $45,969 (that's $1 in salary plus a bunch of unused time off). In Robb's case, that's about $4.5 million for running a grocery store. Nice work if you can get it.

-- Here's a sweet deal: The website Living Social is offering a $20 gift card for just $10. All you have to do is sign up with the local-deal site by providing an e-mail address, pay your $10 bucks and then receive a code that's good for $20 at Amazon. You can use it for anything Amazon sells, and the gift card never expires. Living Social, like Groupon, provides a deal a day for bargain hunters. But hurry -- the gift-card offer is good only for Wednesday.

-- David Lazarus

Photo: American is among airlines predicting higher fares due to rising fuel costs. Credit: Wilfredo Lee / Associated Press